After the success of Casino Royale, and the atrocity that was Quantum of Solace, Daniel Craig returns as James Bond in Skyfall. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that I wasn’t sure what to expect when I sat down. Was it to follow the route of the first? Or the crumble like the second? The truth is, it does neither. It actually blows Casino Royale out of the water, and is undoubtedly one of the best Bond films to date.
The film starts in a traditional Bond fashion, showing the end of his previous mission. This kicks off the central plot of the film, which changes around halfway through. A man has escaped with a hard drive containing the identities of all undercover MI6 agents, putting them at risk from the organizations they have infiltrated. Behind this is a mysterious man from M’s past, Raoul Silva, who’s back for revenge, testing Bond’s loyalty to its limits. The character development, twists and turns, and special effects and stunts all build up, leading to one of the most climactic, and large scale finales in Bond history.
One of the best things about this film is the number of nice surprises for fans of the Bond franchise, including one particularly nice reference around two thirds of the way through. The score that seemed to have been lost in the last two films has made a welcome return, along with the humour that is essential to the Bond make-up. Needless to say, if you have seen the other Bond films, you will pick up on the references, which drives much of the humour. Bond has gone back to its original basics, and it is a much appreciated return.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you have to have seen the other Bond movies to enjoy this one. The story, action and characters all provide enough entertainment to keep you interested for its two and a half hour running time. The usual, globe-trotting adventures are gone, and the majority of the film is spent closer to home. Kicking off in Turkey, it then heads to Hong Kong, before heading back to England, where it stays for the rest of the film. This isn’t a bad thing, but in all the Bond nostalgia, it seems strange to have lost an element so usual to the franchise.
Daniel Craig delivers the same performance as we’re used to - suave, smooth and dangerous. However, life as a 00 has taken its toll, and this time around, he is older, wounded, and both physically and mentally weakened. He manages to give this portrayal relatively well, although part way through the film, he seems to forget about his injuries, and return to the normal, kicking Bond that we’re used to seeing.
Deserving his own section is Javier Bardem, who plays Raoul Silva. Whilst I think comparing him to Heath Ledger’s Joker is a little bit too high praise, he certainly comes close. Silva is one of Bond’s greatest villains; he’s smart, calculating, and completely insane. His history with M gradually becomes clear, and he quickly becomes one of those villains that you just love to hate. Bardem fits this role brilliantly, finding the perfect balance between calm strategist, brutal efficiency, and pure insanity.
Bond is on top form. Redeeming itself after Quantum of Solace, and smashing through the success of Casino Royale, Daniel Craig delivers his best Bond performance to date, aided by Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes and Naoomi Harris, and taking on one of his greatest villains so far, this Bond film is certainly not one that should be missed. Skyfall is a great example of a Bond film done right.
9.5/10 - Fantastic